Prayer and Rec. League Football

It has come to my attention that some coaches in the Chapel HIll Parks and Rec. football league are requiring their players to say the Lord's Prayer before and after their games.  This is in direct violatoin of separation of Church and State.  I  contacted the P and R dept. in September and Mark Troutman replied that he would "address this issue with the coaches."  Well, it is mid October and the team is still saying the prayer!  I'm not anti-religion but since this is a government sponsored league and we have a very diverse population, it seems like this activity is inappropriate at the least and possibly uncomfortable for any Jewish, Muslim, Buddist, etc family that chooses to participate in Rec. League football.  What do others think?



I think besides being illegal that it is very disrespectful. If the coach is really interested in building character and community, I'm sure he can find words that do not reflect just his view of the world. It also bothers me that somehow this team will think they win or lose or perform better or worse because the god of the coach is on their side. Thank you for bringing this up. I think we need to be very concious of the kind of community we want and have that reflected in the activities supported by our tax dollars. I want an inclusive and respectful community.

If my son was on this team I would remove him the first time I saw a prayer being led by employee or representative of local government. I don't want my child thinking that he's not a full-fledged member of the team because he doesn't believe in someone else's god, or that he has to act Christian to win approval or games.This is an embarrassment to the Town, I'm surprised they haven't nipped it in the bud.

You're right to complain and the town should stop it. Have you brought it up again with the town staff?Relatedly, my son does YMCA soccer, and not only does the YMCA not do any overt or covert religious messaging at the games, but they even built in an off week when the games fell during Rosh Hashanah. Cracked me up because Rainbow soccer held games that time.

RubyYou would deny your kid the opportunity to play football because of a prayer? Then the "invisible friend in the sky" people win. Better to talk to the town and the coach and assert your right to not have this stuff forced on you.It's "Mike" Troutman BTW.Cam 

I certainly wouldn't force my son to leave the team if he didn't want to, but we'd probably have a talk about religion and identity before he made the decision (depending on his age and interest). And you can be sure that I'd complain to the coach and necessary authorities either way.I was exposed to plenty of Jesus growing up, went to preschool in a church, etc. and it obviously didn't hurt me. I'm more concerned about a civic institution promoting one religion and privileging one class of players over an other. 

This is a fabulous way to build team spirit and appreciation of one-ness in the task the kids are undertaking.  Kudos to the coaches, not only for taking their job seriously and doing it well, but also for possible drawing the ire of certain member of the community who cannot reconcile personal conviction with team unity achievement.It's a shame that some people are so quick to miss the point of effective coaching - teaching individuals to act in the mutual benefit of each other - and instead searching for pedantics they can complain about.  It's what Spiro Agnew meant when he referred to such people as 'nattering nabobs of negativism.'  How closed-minded and bigoted, to complain about a simple prayer invoked in the spirit of youth teambuilding.  By the way, take a look at a coin or paper bill.  You'll find the words 'In God We Trust."   So much for the 'separation of chuch and state' ... whatever that means.

I'm sure the Jewish kids on the team really feel the spirit of one-ness. Nothing brings a religious Jew closer to his fellow man than a group recital of the Lord's Prayer.There are plenty of nonsectarian prayers out there which would be perfectly appropriate. The Lord's Prayer isn't one of them.

inventor61, that's a joke, right?  I remember back to first grade when I heard the Lord's Prayer the first time (I'm Jewish, that was back in 1956 when there was still prayer in public school) I complained that I did not know the prayer and was sent to detention. To say that someone who does not want to say the Lord's Prayer at a government sponsored event for children is "closed-minded and bigoted" is ludicrous. Hello, it is the prayer of another religion than a lot of participants.  "In God We Trust" covers more religions, but it is still not universal.  I don't complain about prayers anymore, I just hum along however. When I took my kids to YMCA soccer in Raleigh I expected a Christian prayer, I knew what I was getting into and chose voluntarily.

I'm a practicing Christian--just putting the disclaimer out first.   This shouldn't even be a matter for discussion.   The coaches might be well intentioned, but they should stop immediately.  That's just not part of a publicly funded program.    I agree with other commenters about that. You can build unity and team spirit in lots of ways that don't have to incorporate any specific religious tradition.   .   As we've seen throughout the world,  it's very easy for the tide to change and all of a sudden, what was once a majority belief embraced by government to become a minority one, subject to persecution and difficulty.   The best way for all of us to protect our  religious freedom is to keep government out of the business of religion altogether.     

One season my son (who is Jewish) played for CH Rec league baseball. After the game, the team would get together and the coach would lead them in a very brief prayer. I was fine with this b/c the coach (who was a volunteer) was a man who had always treated the kids with respect and fairness. I have heard some nasty stuff come out of coach's mouths - disrespectul, threatening, borderline psychotic - so to me a little prayer after a game was not a big deal.

Make up a team chant, do a team dance, anything but the stultifyingly somber and arcane Lord's Prayer.

Butch Kisiah was made aware of this on Saturday when the Mayor and council were e-mailed by a citizen. All the coaches took part in a meeting last night and the guide book is being reviewed. Butch will make a statement soon. I am a firm believer that religion should be taught to children by their parents, not by a football coach. My son is on the Smith Middle school football team and I asked him if they pray before a game. To my surprise he said yes, but was never asked to by the coach. It was initiated by the players. He just walks away when his team mates pray. I will discuss this with the school board.

I'm in no way a lawyer, but I thought multiple courts have held that student-initiated prayer is fine.  In fact, preventing it seems to be state infringement upon the rights of  students who want to pray.  Why would you waste the school board's time with this?

I have no intention of preventing it. I just want to know what the school rules are and if the town is aligned with those rules. I think consistency is important between the town and schools. Mike Kelley replied back and his response was this; "Our board is in the planning stages of a board development session in January or February to review issues related to religion in schools." It's a complicated issue and I think open dialogue about it is important.

Students have as much right to prayer as they have to not participate in prayer. If the school board or any other governmental body tried to prohibit students from choosing to pray, I would hope this entire community would be up in arms. 


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